The Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper carries Peanuts reruns in their Sunday comics section, because Peanuts is a timeless classic. Of course, they also run Marmaduke, which is a single-joke strip (giant dog acts like a human) that was never really funny and should’ve been cut about 30 years ago… but we’ll save my love/hate relationship with comic strips for another blog post.

One week ago, they ran a Peanuts strip from 1970, back when there still was a Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia is long gone, but Snoopy also mentions the city of Ljubljana, which is very near and dear to my heart. Many moons ago (1990 to be exact), I quit my job working as the overnight DJ at a country music station in Gettysburg, PA (for obvious reasons – I don’t like country music, had no friends there and struggled to make new connections with my vampire schedule) to visit my younger sister in Ireland for a month, then travel with her through Europe for another month. I cashed in a 401K from a previous job to fund my junket, and while any financial consultant worth his/her fee will tell you that’s foolish, I’d do it again in a heartbeat, because the experiences I had on that trip were priceless.

My younger sister was living in Dublin, but I made a few solo forays to different parts of the Emerald Isle. When I was staying at a youth hostel in Kinsale, I met two wonderful young ladies from Ljubljana (which the capital and largest city in Slovenia, in case you stink at geography like I do). Mija and Damjana. I mentioned that my younger sister and I would be traveling through Europe shortly, and they said we should come visit them in Ljubljana. Which we did, a month later. Mija and Damjana and their families were so kind to us. You’d think we were relatives, not some Yankee strangers. They showed us around the wonderful city of Ljubljana, opened up their homes to us, and offered us great meals and comfy beds, which were sorely needed after three weeks of youth hostel roulette (room full of partiers? room full of snorers? yes and yes).

I remained “pen pals” with both Mija and Damjana (back when “pen pals” was a thing). 27 years later, we still stay in touch via occasional emails and annual Christmas cards. Both are married, both have two kids, both are still the same kind and gracious people they were back in 1990.  (And they like to point out that they are even more beautiful than Slovenia’s own Melania Trump… and have better husbands.) Mija still lives in Slovenia, and teaches English to kids. Damjana lives in France and is a crafter/designer/artist (you can see/buy her unique designs on Etsy, read her blog here and check out her photography on Instagram).

Obviously reading the Peanuts comic strip made me think of my dear old (but not old-old) friends. Ever the promoters of their home country, they suggested that everyone should get a glimpse of all its majesty and natural beauty on the official Slovenia Instagram.

So if you’re keeping score at home, a comic strip from 1970 made me think of 1990, and a city 4,716 miles away. Because friends far away are still close to my heart.